In reading through this booklet about Roosevelt School, you will find that we have a rather unique and very interesting history. There has been a school in almost this same spot since before the Civil War. Few schools can boast of five successive buildings almost on the same location where children, grand-children, and even great-grandchildren of those who attended the original school received at least a part of their education.
The first school, known as Fairview, was located on the grounds of what is now the Coolidge Junior High School. The district at that time covered the bluff territory from 18th Street on the west, 41st Street on the east, and north as far as 12th Avenue.
This was all farm and timber land at the time, and Fairview was a little one-room country school. Through the years, the building became quite dilapidated. The children had kicked a hole in one side, and it had been filled in with rags to keep out the cold. On very cold days, the children spent most of their time marching around to keep warm. Perhaps this was the original "gym class".
There is no record of what became of this first Fairview School.
The second Fairview School was built on the original site about 1875. It, too, was a one-room school, but it was well constructed and well kept through the years. Through the efforts of a teacher, it had the luxury of furnace heat. About 1910, there were a large number of new homes built in the area, and by 1911, one teacher held classes in the school while another teacher held classes in the Township Hall in Highland. The problem of too few classrooms for too many children was in evidence even then! To make room for the third Fairview School, this building was moved to a residential lot at 3601 - 23rd Avenue, where it was converted into a home. In 1961, it was again moved, this time to the area known as South Moline Gardens.
The new school was a stucco structure and was first opened in the fall of 1913, although it was not fully completed. It had three classrooms which accommodated three teachers and 60 pupils.
Since the school was outside the city limits, funds were very short and only the building and the barest necessities could be furnished. The Superintendent of Schools called a meeting of the mothers in the school and encouraged them to organize a club. On February 20, 1914, the Fairview Parent and Teachers Club was organized with 26 members. Mrs. W. J. Stewart was elected the first president.
During the first years, the mothers were a busy group, piecing quilts and sewing carpet rugs while their meetings were in progress. This industriousness instituted the first bazaar at the school where the quilts and rugs were sold. In addition, they had bake sales, socials, and other money-raising projects. The new school needed many things and it was through the efforts of the Mothers Club that more blackboards were added, and books, a large dictionary, and a globe were purchased. Donations from the members included an organ, a gasoline stove, and the all important coffee pot!
The School Board, which was at that time known as the Twenty-third Avenue Improvement Association, and the Mothers Club were responsible for having the well dug deeper and rebricked and for the installation of electric lights and a telephone in the school year of 1815. The unfinished room was also completed at this time.
World War I brought extra work to the Mothers Club. Not only did they work for their own children, but they also purchased a Fifty Dollar Liberty Bond and adopted a French war orphan in addition to knitting and sewing at their meetings. The businessmen of the district presented a Service Flag to the club.
In 1920,Fairview School had the services of a rural school nurse for the first time.
The district, because of the lack of funds, was unable to lift the indebtedness connected with the school. After consulting the Moline City School Board, it was agreed that the city pay the debt, thereby making Fairview their property. So, in the summer of 1921, the district school became a city school.
In January, 1922, the name of the school was changed to Roosevelt in honor of the former president. Miss Grace Putnam was the first principal of the school under the new name, a duty which she combined with Logan School at that time. She passed away in 1932.
The middle 20's were busy years for the parents of Roosevelt school children. A Boy Scout Troop was sponsored, a Mothers Chorus was organized, and a branch library was opened in the Township Hall for Logan and Roosevelt school children. By 1928, the P.T.A. was successful in getting a kindergarten in the school. A portable wooden building was provided for the class and summer round-up was born. A Mothers Gym Class was organized, and the members romped gayly in black sateen bloomers and white blouses. As a last day treat, the children were given all the ice cream cones they could eat, but this had to be discontinued. Some of the children ate far too many cones and had to spend the rest of the week in bed recovering from a stomach ache.
Twenty third Avenue was paved as far as 34th Street in 1924, but to the east in front of the school, it was next to impassable each spring or whenever there was a lot of rain. In 1931, the State Highway Commission extended the pavement, and Roosevelt was on a hard-surfaced road.
Because of the depression, the teachers' salaries were dropped in the early 30's. It was during this period that a speaker at a P.T.A. meeting outlined a diet for five containing all of the necessary health foods at a cost of $6.97 per week! Since there was a depression, we were fortunate to have a bond issue passed at this time for a new school. Petitions were signed in 1933 to have it built with W.P.A. funds. The efforts of the parents to get a new school were not in vain. It was built with the intention of changing it to a junior high school when funds were available for a new grade school and when there would be a large enough enrollment for a junior high in this part of Moline.
The building was occupied after the Thanksgiving holidays in 1935 with 200 pupils enrolled. The W.P.A. removed the old stucco building and installed a cinder drive and sidewalks.
In the late 30's, the Federal Government made funds available for public buildings on a loan and grant basis. The School Board was able to acquire the land where Roosevelt is situated and construction was begun. The present Roosevelt was completed and occupied in September,1939, and Open House was held January 14, 1940. The former Roosevelt School was changed to Coolidge Junior High and the wings were added. Our school at this time had an enrollment of 330 pupils with 10 teachers and 1 principal, Milda Johnson, for Roosevelt and Logan combined.
The basement of the school consisted of two large playrooms, a lunch room where the cafeteria is now, for those who carried their lunch, a room for adult meetings, and the heating plant. The gymnasium and classrooms on the upper floors were much as they are today. The ceiling in the lunch room was very low, and the problem of allowing the children to talk during their lunch while still keeping the noise at a reasonable level was quite a large one!
The Master of Ceremonies for the Fall Festival of 1939 was June Haver, who later became a movie star. In the spring of 1940, the State P.T.A. Convention was held in Rock Island, and the Mothers Chorus, under the direction of Mrs. Claire Brown, was honored by being asked to sing at the Music Conference Session.
In 1941, under the sponsorship of P.T.A. Cub Scout Pack 10 was organized with 7 dens. It was changed to Pack 110 in 1959 and now has 15 dens and is sponsored by the Dads Club.
The number of children in the Moline Schools began increasing, and for the first time the city had an Elementary School Supervisor for Curriculum. The rooms at the east side of the basement level that we now call "A" and "B" were finished in 1943 to allow for our added enrollment.
During the years of World War II, the families of Roosevelt School were again very busy. Through the P.T.A., they sent boxes of food to former students who were serving our country, collected hangers and tin, helped issue sugar ration books, worked on the Defense Bond Drive by canvassing house to house, sent games, books and puzzles to the Schick Hospital in Clinton and cigarettes to Mayo General Hospital in Galesburg, and served in many other ways. A service flag was presented to the school with 63 stars on it to indicate the number of former pupils in the services at that time. Before the end of the war, there were 96 stars on it.
It was in 1943 that we first had a principal solely for Roosevelt School, when Mr. Leslie Cooper took that position. Miss Johnson, who had served both Logan and Roosevelt since 1933, carried on her duties at Logan.
Our present Dads Club was organized in 1945. Since its beginning, it has frequently worked with the P.T.A. on many fund raising projects - - carnivals, book fairs, ice cream socials and suppers to name a few. Together and separately, the two groups have purchased numerous articles for the school, such as library books, public address systems for the gym and the classrooms, an opaque lantern and view master, a movie projector and screen, in addition to turning over cash to the principals for their use in buying necessary items for the school. Both organizations have sponsored and supported Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts so that the children could have the advantages of these groups. The Dads Club has continuously supported the baseball teams by buying the necessary equipment, building a second diamond in 1956 when the number of boys created the need for more room, providing materials and man power to keep both diamonds in playing condition, and volunteering as coaches for the various teams.
For many years, the P.T.A. and Dads Clubs put on a variety or a minstrel show annually. One such affair which should be remembered is the Minstrel Show of 1949. Not only was it put on for profit in the school, but the members of the cast very generously gave up their Easter Sunday to entertain for the veterans in a cottage at the East Moline State Hospital.
A Blue Lady Traffic Patrol was started in 1950. It was the first time in the Quad City area that mothers volunteered to assist the regular school boy patrols in their traffic duties. Many schools followed suit after Roosevelt mothers proved it could be successful. The work was carried on until the blinker, walk-light was installed in front of the school in 1952.
The front wing was added to Roosevelt in 1950. Mrs. Jennie Ellison, the principal at the time, remembers that the construction did not interfere with the classes too much except for the noise of the air hammers. The addition was certainly needed, for the school had an enrollment of 724 students. What is now the P.T.A. room was divided by a curtain to make two classrooms, and even one of the storage rooms in the basement was called into use as a classroom. The following year, the enrollment dropped to 554 when the construction of Washington School was completed and took the children from the Molette and Springbrook Court areas.
The lunch room in the basement was converted into a cafeteria when the front wing was added. We were the second school in the city to have one.
There was a branch of the Moline Public Library in the school from 1951 until the Book Mobile was purchased in 1954.
A school picnic was held for the first time in 1951. It was a success and has been an annual affair each year since then. Beginning that same year and for many years after, a teachers party was held each fall. The parents attending brought a pot luck dinner and had an opportunity to become better acquainted with their childrens' teachers.
The 50's brought another rapid change in our area. New businesses and homes were built and brought with them a tremendous increase in traffic. Twenty third Avenue was made a four lane highway in 1953, and 41st Street was paved south of the avenue in 1954.
Mrs Ellison remembers several different occasions when she and mothers from the school counted traffic crossing 23rd Avenue at 41st Street to show that traffic lights were needed for the safety of the children coming to school. They were finally successful in their efforts in 1955.
Leota Hull, a long time teacher in the Moline school system, died in 1955; and a scholarship fund was established in her honor. The Moline Educational Association is in charge of administering the fund and has awarded six scholarships thus far, beginning in 1957. Each year a worthy Moline High School senior who plans to become a teacher is awarded an $800 scholarship -- $200 for each year that he or she attends college. Since Leota Hull spent her last four years teaching at Roosevelt, the fund has always been an especially important project for our school.
We were not the only school in the city to have difficulties getting our children to school safely. An official Crossing Guard Program was instituted in October, 1958, by the city to supervise the children as they crossed busy streets going to and from school. The P.T.A.'s of the schools assisted by selling safety stickers the following January to raise the necessary money for uniforms, and the Crossing Guards took up their duties in September of 1959. It was a severe blow to learn this fall that the city felt it could no longer spare the money for the salaries of the guards. We all hope that some means can be found to solve this problem, for it is indeed a vital one for our area in particular.
The Moline Senior High School had been overcrowded for several years. In 1959, the new building was completed and opened and the old building was used by Moline Community College.
During the years 1958 - 1962, the Income Plan was used to raise money for the work of the P.T.A. and Dads Clubs, rather than having the usual fund raising projects throughout the year. Parties were held for each grade to give the children and their parents an opportunity for a social evening with their teachers at the school each year.
The Wilson Junior High, which was to be completed by the fall of 1961, was not opened until the beginning of the second semester because of a strike in the building trades. Many of the parents in our area will remember the first semester of that year when the Coolidge and Wilson pupils shared the Coolidge building in shifts.
The history of Roosevelt School is indeed a long and varied one. From a one room country school with a handful of students and the typical name of Fairview, it has grown to be the largest grade school in the Moline school system - - 584 students. We hope that you have enjoyed our account of the past 100 years. Who would care to forecast what the next 100 years will have in store?
The preceding text was transcribed by J.L. McKenzie on August 7, 2002 from a pamphlet called "A History of the Roosevelt School" which was produced by the Roosevelt P.T.A. circa 1962.
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